Court of Appeals Backs Improved Pollution Standards for Cars

April 29, 2011
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(Washington, D.C. – April 29, 2011) Today's federal court decision rejecting a legal attack on new clean car standards will help protect American air as well as Americans' wallets, according to Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. ruled this morning in favor of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) green light for clean car standards adopted by California and, later, thirteen more states and the District of Columbia.

Environmental Defense Fund intervened in defense of EPA's action, supporting California's pioneering leadership.

"This is a major victory not just for California, but also for the millions of Americans who are working together to unleash smart policies that will save families money at the gas pump, reduce dangerous pollution and break our dependence on imported oil," said EDF president Fred Krupp.

California first adopted the new standards in 2004. They were later adopted by Arizona, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

The federal government, the involved states, the U.S. auto industry and the United Auto Workers Union reached an agreement on the standards last year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized a national clean car program on April 1, 2010. The national program builds from the foundation forged by the state clean car standards, creating integrated national standards that provide benefits across the country.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) sued to to block EPA's green light for the California clean car standards, but today the court ruled that neither the Chamber of Commerce nor NADA have legal standing to challenge EPA's action.

According to the Court's decision, "[b]ecause the Chamber has not identified a single member who was or would be injured by EPA's waiver decision, it lacks standing to raise this challenge."

The Court also relied on the overarching national standards, writing, "[e]ven if EPA's decision to grant California a waiver for its emission standards once posed an imminent threat of injury to the petitioners -- which is far from clear -- the agency's subsequent adoption of federal standards has eliminated any independent threat that may have existed."

"It is time for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to stop obstructing made in America clean air solutions that are a trifecta for saving money, energy security, and a safer environment," Krupp added.

"This is a major victory for Americans who are tired of pouring out their hard-earned money at the gas pump," said Vickie Patton, EDF's General Counsel. "Cleaner cars will save their owners money – as much as $3000 over the life of their vehicles. Cleaner cars also reduce dangerous air pollution, and help break our nation's dependence on imported oil."